Ah, keywords. Causes of much consternation among content developers and SEO experts, keywords are meant to be useful, but often seem to just confuse things. It’s often difficult to conceive of building a website with useful content that is still somewhat dictated by what people search by.
When we want to find out some information, we think of the most common terms used to describe what we’re looking for and then plunk those into our favourite search engine. Then we wait for the results. If we don’t get exactly what we wanted, we modify our search, and carry on. Each set of search terms you enter then become “keywords” or “keyword phrases” that all the SEO people out there want to know about. Typing in “Calgary hockey” will get you a number of links to minor hockey associations and StubHub, but if you actually want to attend an NHL game, entering “Calgary Flames tickets” will take you right where you want to be.
How did that happen? The owner of the Calgary Flames Ticket page, their content developer and their SEO specialist made very sure that they included the words “Calgary”, “Flames” and “tickets” in the title of the page, and also carefully placed the same words somewhere in the content of the page. And voila! You found each other.
Most pages aren’t quite as easy to boil down in to a three or four word description, though, and sometimes those who work with content and SEO find it hard to tell if they’re at the mercy of keywords, or if keywords are directed by developers. There are a few ways you can feel more in control of your keywords, though, and eventually fine-tune your website into the well-oiled machine it’s meant to be.
- Do some research and figure out which search terms are used most often when looking up your type of business or venture. Try out a few different combinations of the terms you would use if you were trying to find out about similar businesses in the area. Check the total number of search results each time…the more results the better! If something seems to working well in it’s likely keyword phrase you will want to incorporate into some of your applicable pages.
- Keyword phrases work best when they’re shorter. But also remember that there are thousands of other businesses out there using the exact same phrases and battling for the exact same space at the top of the first page of a Google search. So try to incorporate a few more location-specific keywords into your content so that those that are close by can find you.
- Keep track of your progress by creating a spreadsheet with all of your keywords and their corresponding pages. When you check your analytics, make a note of which keywords seem to be the most successful in drawing traffic to a specific page. You may have done everything perfectly the first time and not have to change a thing, but more than likely you will have to do a little rearranging to make sure that people are landing on the page that is most beneficial to their search.
Tools like HubSpot are extremely helpful in keeping your website organized, but if you are just not comfortable with SEO or simply don’t have the time to deal with it, consider bringing in a specialist to help lighten your load.